Saturday, August 14, 2010

Carlos Embale: Todavía me queda voz. Egrem LD-4297

This was one of the first Carlos Embale recordings I ever owned. I got it right as I was starting to get into rumba, around 1994.

But I never really got into it. The occasional use of son clave contradicted what I was learning about rumba at the time, the songs are all pretty short and go right to the coro, the tres/dos and the tumbadora stay pretty constant throughout, and the energy just overall felt low compared to other things I was listening to at the time, like "Rumba Caliente 88/77" by Los Muñequitos.

Listening to it now though, in the midst of the current "guarapachangueo" craze with percussionists seemingly in free-jazz style overdrive, and overproduced, auto-tuned coros dominating new releases, it's refreshing to hear something laid-back and unassuming like this.

Although I still don't consider it one of his best albums, what my ears once heard as "low energy" now sounds "relaxed" - the quiet confidence of masters at work, secure in the fact that despite their years, they still "got it," or as Embale sings in the opening lines:

"Todavía me queda voz, sentimiento y melodía..."

And masters they are, too. The musicians are not mentioned in the notes, but from Embale's inspirations we can tell that they include:

"Maximino," — most likely Maximino Duquesne "El Moro Quinto," now of "Rumberos de Cuba" and widely considered one of the best quinteros in Havana, — Julio Embale, Carlos' half-brother, on another drum, and Calixto Callava, Marina Sánchez, Rafael Ortíz, and Miguel Manzano in the coro.

Download and enjoy here.

Todavía me queda voz.
Egrem LD-4297
Recorded 1985, released 1988.

Side 1:
1. Todavía me queda voz (Guaguancó - Emilio Cavahilón)
2. Rumba pa' gozar (Rumba - Yánez y Gómez)
3. Bueno y qué? (Yambú - Juan Almeida)
4. Préstame el quinto (Guaguancó - Floréncio Hernández y Mercedes Alvarez)
5. Mi puchunga de amor (Guaguancó - Calixto Callava)
6. Pim, Pam, Pum y Blem, Blem, Blem (Rumba - Chano Pozo)

Side 2:
1. Rumba de los rumberos (Rumba - Ricardo Díaz)
2. Hoy no es ayer (Guaguancó - Tomás R. Valdés)
3. Rumba de Inesita (Rumba - Carlos Embale)
4. La casa de mamita (Guaguancó - Carlos Embale)
5. ¿Por que me guardas rencor? (Rumba - Rafael Ortiz)
6. "1, 2 y 3" (Conga - Rafael Ortiz)

Thanks to Mark Sanders for the digital transfer.


Bongos not bombs said...

""guarapachangueo" craze with percussionists seemingly in free-jazz style overdrive".

Hilarious description right there, Barry!

Ulises Beato, Director, Conjunto Guantanamo said...

Carlos Embale is a true treasure of Cuban music. Besides Benny he is my favorite (hard to choose favorites in this pantheon though). The singer in my band, Pepito Gomez, tells me stories that I've heard from other Cuban artists about his final destitute years in Havana. Very sad. Juan de Marcos once placed Embale as "one of the top singers to come out of Cuba in the twentieth century". He is also one of the few that can claim to be both a master Sonero and master Rumbero. Those are few and far between. Carlos Embale is truly inpiring to me as a Cuban musician. Que dios te tenga en Su gloria Carlos.